Pool lane charges increase

Swim clubs and coaches will have to pay lane fees at Moana Pool from next year, although the proposed charges were scaled back after multiple pleas that they were unaffordable.

Dunedin City Council staff had initially proposed, as part of the annual budget-setting process, introducing a charge of $5 per lane per hour at all times for professional swim coaches and swim clubs.

After hearing submissions on the matter last week, councillors agreed yesterday to increase the charges to $2 per hour per lane up to six lanes, and $10 per hour per lane above that.

A charge of $10 per hour for half-pool hire for group activities was also agreed.

The charges would apply during the peak swimming times of 6am to 7.30am and 3.30pm to 7.30pm.

A cost analysis by aquatic services staff showed the charges would bring in about $31,000 per year - about $12,000 a year from swim clubs, and $19,000 from swim coaches.

Council general manager operations Tony Avery said the aim of the charges was mainly to increase efficient use of the lanes, by encouraging clubs to use fewer lanes and not spread out across the pool.

The charges would come in from next year, so clubs and coaches could build them into their annual subs.

Council aquatic services manager Steven Prescott said the council was the only city council he was aware of that did not charge lane fees, and in other places the fees were anywhere between $15 a lane and $85.

"I don't think $5 is too astronomical."

Even after a motion reducing the charges proposed initially, councillors were still not sure about setting fees at all, and the motion was won by one vote, with four of the nine councillors present opposing it.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said she could not support the charges, as they penalised swim clubs on the basis of their size. They would also mean the most popular clubs would have only members who could afford the extra fees, and people who could not would have to move to less popular clubs.

Cr Dave Cull said he could not support the motion because he did not think it was the council's business to be setting fees.

The increase in lane fees was one of the most common topics among submitters to the council's budget-setting exercise, with more than 50 individuals and clubs expressing concern.


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